Saturday, February 18, 2017

Use a Google form to encourage reading before class.

It's not exactly about open source texts, but yesterday I did an on-campus talk at our center for teaching and learning on the subject of "Getting Students to Do the Reading." I shared my solution that involves a relatively simple use of Google forms to get students to read and respond before coming to class. I think it's slightly relevant here because it's free, and the form I use can certainly be modified and redistributed.

If you're interested, I put together a brief video showing how to use a Google form for this purpose:

If any of you have any useful supplementary, open source techniques that you use in your classrooms and would like to share them here, please let me know and I'll post them here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

DMCA Takedown Request of Open Source Calculus Book, ha!

Many of you may know that I work at Whitman College and David Guichard, author of the widely used open-source calculus textbook aptly named "Single Variable Calculus", is in my department (in the office right next door).

Not surprisingly, many of us in the dept here use this textbook. Hence, a pdf copy of the textbook sits on one of our dept webservers ( 

A couple of days ago Whitman's tech support folks received a DMCA takedown request from Cengage (a commercial textbook operation) for this pdf file. Lest there be any doubt, Cengage does not own the rights to this text. Indeed, on page 2 of the pdf one can view clearly the creative commons license governing the use of this text. Fortunately, our tech services folks have a good sense of humor and told Cengage to "eff off!"

I'd love to post the actual takedown notice, but (surprise!) the fine print at the bottom of the notice prohibits that. It's too bad that these copyright trolling outfits aren't liable for the time and energy consumed by false claims of infringement.

I'd be interested in knowing if other authors of open-source texts have run into this issue.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Open Source Texts at the JMM Atlanta 2017

Here's a note from Kent Morrison of the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) that nicely synopsizes AIM's open source text activities at the recent Joint Mathematics Meeting in Atlanta earlier this month. It's a message to the authors that participated, but contains information to users of open source texts as well. Thanks Kent!
Thanks to all of you we had an incredible display of 20 different titles at the AIM booth last week in Atlanta. After the books were gone we realized we didn’t have a photo of the display—we’ll get one next year. But if you weren’t there you can be assured that it was pretty impressive. We also had almost constant traffic from attendees who wanted to know more or to tell us about the books they had used. A number of students stopped by to say that they used some of the books and liked them—not just for the price.

We managed to give all of the books away by the end of the meeting. Those taking the books were typically very grateful. We asked them to give the books serious consideration for course adoption and to pass them on to colleagues teaching the appropriate courses. One of the books is now in Rwanda, where the person who took it is teaching a short course this month in a place with almost no library. She plans to leave the book behind when she returns home.

During the meeting there was a lot more going on with open textbooks and more generally with open educational resources. The AIM textbook initiative was mentioned frequently. We have just begun work on a second NSF grant for the UTMOST project, and there is a closely related project with AIM involvement under the name “Curated Courses.” I invite you to look at the websites and to see what we are up to.

Let me know when there are changes to the data about your book so that I can keep the web pages up to date.

We’ll be in San Diego next January. Hope to see you and your books there.

Best wishes,

Kent Morrison
American Institute of Mathematics